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BIOSwimmer Tuna Bot

BIOSwimmer Tuna Bot

The BIOSwimmer Tuna Bot will one day patrol U.S. harbors for contraband...

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been calling for a new generation of sea-bots to help patrol the busy traffic of America’s major seaports. Several previous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) have come to pass without success, but Boston Engineering Corporation’s Advanced Systems new Tuna Bot underwater robot is already well into its development stage and hopes to be fielded in the not too distant near future.

The ichthyoid-inspired bot, borrows is design from millions of years of evolution. Tuna fish are notorious fast and agile, and by using the animal’s slim-lined form factor, the BIOSwimmer is able to access flooded structures such a ships bilges, and ballast tanks, even in high-viscosity fluids like crude oil.

bioswimmer tuna bot uuv

BIOSwimmer Tuna Bot

David Taylor, program manager for the BIOSwimmer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said:

“We’re using nature as a basis for design and engineering a system that works exceedingly well.”

The BIOSwimmer receives its instructions from a remote operator, its onboard computer system the takes care of navigation whilst sending data back to base via a laptop link. The UUV features swappable sensors, including a pencil-beam, for different missions. Director of ASG, Mike Rufo said:

“It’s designed to support a variety of tactical missions and with its interchangeable sensor payloads and reconfigurable Operator Controls, can be optimized on a per-mission basis”

The Tuna bot will eventually patrol the some 6.5 million 20-foot shipping containers, that move through the Port of Los Angeles each year, the 6.26 million that pass through the port of Long Beach, and the 5.29 million that arrive at the Port of New York, for contraband and illegal activities. And while it wasn’t mentioned in the original article, the bot could possibly be used to assess safety of underwater structures.

The BIOSwimmer has already cleared its Phase I development cycle, and it entered Phase II development last year. If all goes well, the BIOSwimmer could be keeping harbor safe within the next couple of years.

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